Facilities: Standard notification requirements* - Chapter 7, 2022 UnitedHealthcare Administrative Guide

Confirming coverage approvals

Before providing a service on the Advance Notification/Prior Authorization List, the facility must confirm coverage approval is on file. This promotes an informed pre-service discussion between the facility and member. If the service is not covered, the member can decide whether to receive and pay for the service.

If the facility performs the service without confirming a coverage approval is on file, and we decide the service is not a covered benefit, we may deny the facility claim.

The facility may not bill the member or accept payment from the member due to the facility’s non-compliance with our notification protocols.

Admission notification requirements

Benefit plans not subject to this protocol

Some benefit plans may have separate notification or prior authorization requirements. Refer to the Benefit plans subject to this guide table in Chapter 1: Introduction and to the supplements of this guide for additional information for the plans listed.

  • UnitedHealthcare Options PPO health care providers are not required to follow this protocol for Options PPO benefit plans because members enrolled in these benefit plans are responsible for providing notification/requesting prior authorization.
  • UnitedHealthcare Indemnity
  • UnitedHealthOne - Golden Rule Insurance Company (“GRIC” group number 705214) only
  • M.D.IPA, Optimum Choice or OneNet PPO
  • Benefit plans subject to the Neighborhood Health Partnership (NHP) Supplement
  • Benefit plans subject to the Oxford Commercial Supplement, except for UnitedHealthcare Oxford Navigate Individual benefit plans (group number 908410)
  • Benefit plans subject to the River Valley Entities Supplement
  • Benefit plans subject to the UnitedHealthcare West Supplement
  • Medicare Advantage (MA) plans that have delegated arrangements with medical groups/IPAs - in these arrangements, the delegate’s protocols must be followed. Submit prior authorizations as directed on the member’s ID card.
  • Erickson Advantage
  • Benefit plans subject to an additional guide or supplement (refer to the Benefit plans subject to this guide table).
  • Other benefit plans such as Medicaid, CHIP and Uninsured that are neither Commercial nor MA.

Facilities are responsible for admission notification for the following inpatient admissions. We need admission notification, even if the physician provided advance notification and pre-service coverage approval is on file:

  • Planned/elective admissions for acute care
  • Acute inpatient rehabilitation
  • Long-term acute care
  • Unplanned admissions for acute care
  • SNF admissions
  • Admissions following outpatient surgery
  • Admissions following observation
  • Newborns admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Newborns who remain hospitalized after the mother is discharged
    • Notice is required within 24 hours of the mother’s discharge.

Weekday admissions, you must notify us within 24 hours, unless otherwise indicated.

Weekend and holiday admissions, you must notify us by 5 p.m. local time on the next business day.

Emergency admissions (when a member is unstable and not capable of providing coverage information), you must:

  • Notify us within 24 hours, or the next business day if on a weekend/holiday, from the time coverage information is known.
  • When notifying us, you must communicate the extenuating circumstances. 

Payment is not reduced due to notification delay in an emergency.

Receipt of an admission notification does not ensure payment. Payment for covered services depends on the member’s benefits, facility’s contract, claim processing requirements, and eligibility for payment.

You must include these details in your admission notification:

  • Member name, health plan ID number, and date of birth
  • Facility name and TIN or NPI
  • Admitting/attending physician name and TIN or NPI
  • Description for admitting diagnosis or ICD-10-CM diagnosis code
  • Actual admission date
  • Extenuating circumstances, if an emergency admission

All SNF admissions for UnitedHealthcare Nursing Home and Assisted Living plan members must be authorized by an Optum nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. Claims may be denied if authorizations are not coordinated through Optum.

Discharge notification requirements

Hospitals must notify us of discharge from acute facility stays within 24 hours after weekday discharge (or by 5 p.m. local time on the next business day if the 24-hour limit would require notification on a weekend or holiday). For weekend and holiday discharges, we must receive the notification by 5 p.m. local time on the next business day.

Emergency services

Decisions regarding whether services met the definition of an “emergency” may be made by our Medical Director (or designee) or another process. This determination is subject to appeal. You can find a definition of “emergency” in the Glossary.

Reimbursement reductions for lack of timely admission notification

Facilities must provide timely admission notification (even if the physician provided advance notification and pre-service coverage approval is on file) as follows or claims payments are denied in full or in part:

Notification time frame Reimbursement reduction
Admission notification received after it was due, but not more than 72 hours after admission. 100% of the average daily contract rate1 for the days preceding notification.
Admission notification received after it was due, and more than 72 hours after admission. 100% of the contract rate (entire stay).
No admission notification received. 100% of the contract rate (entire stay).
1 The average daily contract rate is calculated by dividing the contract rate for the entire stay by the number of days for the entire length of stay.

Maryland state-specific notification requirements for facilities

If advance notification or prior authorization is required for an elective inpatient procedure, the physician must get the approval. The facility must notify us within 24 hours (or the following business day if the admission occurs on a weekend or holiday) of the elective admission. If the physician gets the approval, but the facility does not get theirs within a timely manner, we reduce payment to only room and board charges.

If the physician received coverage approval, we pay the initial day of the inpatient admission unless any of the following are true:

  1. The information submitted to us regarding the service was false or intentionally misrepresentative.
  2. Critical information requested by us was missing and our determination would have been different had we known the information.
  3. A planned course of treatment approved by us was not followed.
  4. On the date the pre-authorized or approved service was delivered: (i) the individual was not covered by UnitedHealthcare, (ii) a member eligibility verification system was available to the health care professional by phone or internet, and (iii) the member eligibility verification system in the UnitedHealthcare Provider Portal shows no coverage.

Inpatient review: clinical information

We determine the medical necessity of inpatient admissions during either concurrent or retrospective review. We require you to comply with our requests:

  • For information, documents or discussions related to our reviews and discharge planning. This includes primary and secondary diagnosis, clinical information, treatment plan, admission order, patient status, discharge planning needs, barriers to discharge and discharge date. When available, provide access to electronic medical records (EMR).
  • From our interdisciplinary care coordination team and/or Medical Director. This includes our requests that you help us engage our members directly face-to-face or by phone.
    • If you receive the request before 1 p.m. local time:
      • Supply all requested information within 4 hours
    • If you receive our request after 1 p.m. local time:
      • Provide the information within the same business day, but no later than 12 p.m. local time the next business day

Facility denial process

We issue a denial letter if the level of care or any inpatient bed days are not medically necessary. We decide this through concurrent or retrospective review. We use nationally recognized criteria and guidelines to determine if the service/care was medically necessary under the member’s benefit plan. We can provide the criteria to you upon request.

A facility denial letter is sent to the member and copied to the admitting physician, the PCP (if applicable) and the facility, as required.

*For state-specific variations, refer to uhcprovider.com/priorauth > Advance Notification and Plan Requirement Resources.